Friday, May 31, 2013

Race Report: OC Triathlon 2013

I love the Orange County Triathlon for many reasons. One of the best is that I can train on the race course since it's so close. This year was my 4th time racing here and I was definitely looking forward to it. Oceanside was my "A" race this year, but OC was a close 2nd.

The training: yes, I had been riding through the canyon at least once a week. I felt like I had my climbing training dialed. My swimming has been improving incredibly. My run was on par with the previous year. I was ready for a PR, even if just by a few seconds.

The weather couldn't have been more perfect. It was not too hot like in previous years and no rain was in sight. No fog in the morning for the swim was a definite plus too. Here we go!

Swim: the water was a perfect temperature (70 degrees) and felt wonderful. I was wave 3 and excited to have a few friends racing with me. I got into a groove quickly and felt great. After a while I noticed a women swimming on my right who was going the same speed as me. I figured I'd use her for spotting so I wouldn't have to look as much. I had an inkling she was one of my friends, but I couldn't remember what her wetsuit looked like. Before I knew it the swim was coming to an end. I don't look at my watch until I get out of the water and was so happy to see my time. Wow! I had killed my time from last year by over 5 minutes.

Swim 28:24

T1: I got out of the water and my friend Heather was right next to me. It was her swimming next to me! We really should train together. I ran into transition and stripped my wetsuit quickly (that's a first!). I grabbed my bike and I was off!

T1 1:53

Bike: I felt great and didn't feel too tired. That was my problem I guess. I was flying on the first half of the bike, but when I got to the point that is the half-way point for time I was surprised to see I was way off. Was there wind? Were my legs tired? No and no. Hmmm...what happened? Not sure, but I needed to kick my butt to get back to T2 to get my PR. Unfortunately the second half of the bike is mostly uphill. I got my act together and managed to keep the same mph for the rest of the bike. I was really upset at how horrible my bike was, but I knew I still had a chance to PR.

Bike 1:21:14

T2: Lightning fast and I was off on the run.

T2 1:05

Run: My legs were feeling the effects of my extra push on the bike. They were tired, but I managed to keep one foot in front of the other. I was still passing people right and left. I started my Garmin right when I exited T2, but it wasn't getting location. Sadly, I waited over two miles for it to start with no avail, so I have no stats for the run. I took my last Cliff Shot gel after about 10 minutes on the run. The first two miles are slightly downhill or flat. I tried running fast to make up for the hills that awaited me. I had 50 minutes to get to the finish line to PR. The previous year I ran a 47:36 run, so it was possible. The hills started and I kept running. No stopping for me, even if I was running as fast as some people were walking. I made it up the dreaded Vista del Lago hill and saw that not only was I going to PR, but I had a chance to go under 2:40. I happily ran towards the finish line. Since I didn't have an accurate race time, I didn't know how close I was to coming in under 2:40. Turns out I was just a few seconds over. Oh well. It wasn't my goal. I jumped across the finish line to a new PR. Yippee!

Run 47:24

OC Triathlon 2:40:03
(3:49 PR)

Skyler and I both got to race, thanks to a friend watching Desmond. Skyler's day wasn't as great as mine, but he still did great! I love being married to such a talented man!

Heather and I first met before Ironman Arizona. I think we will always have a connection because of that race. Ironman is a life-changing event and I'm happy we got to share part of our day together. I'm hoping we get to start training together. She's fast on the bike and I could sure use a training partner.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Canyon run

One of my favorite places to ride is now one of my favorite places to run. Carrie and I wanted to run somewhere new so we headed into Santiago canyon for our long Sunday run. I'm definitely adding this to my places to train for st George.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Hotel workout

Sometimes you have to make the best with what you've got. I was recently in San Francisco (well 15 minutes south of it) for work. It was still an important weekend for training though so I used what I had.

I started with 4 miles on the treadmill, ending with a speedy last mile at 6:30.

The pool was about half the size of a normal lap pool but I made it work. 17 minutes was probably about 800 yards.

Workout complete!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Ride with trailer

I don't always have to ride alone. I finally got up the courage to do a real training ride pulling the trailer. It wasn't easy and my pace was only 13mph but my legs were so sore the next day. I'm definitely adding this to the routine.

Monday, May 20, 2013

OC tri practice

It's pretty cool that I can train on the course of one of my favorite triathlons: OC Triathlon. It's a hilly course but I've been spending lots of time riding them. Can't wait for race day!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

My Ragnar Made Possible By...

You can't head into a Ragnar Relay without being prepared. Maybe you can squeak by with a normal 12-person team, but when you're on an ULTRA team, there's no time for stopping.

Last year I got super sick and thought I'd never do a relay again. Yet here I was again, but this time I had the tools I needed to survive.

First on the list was Dramamine. Sitting in the back of a 12-seater van, starting & stopping a million times, will really do a number on your stomach. Thankfully I brought these and my stomach was happy.

Ragnar weekend turned out to be another hot weekend. I loaded up on water and Nuun the days before, and continued to chug it all weekend long. I especially loved the new Cherry Limeade flavor, which had caffeine. I love that Nuun has lots of sodium so that the hot weather didn't rob me of all of my water supply.

I regularly eat Honey Stinger waffles, but the gels were new to me. I usually only eat vanilla because gels can be hard to swallow, literally. I reached for the fruit smoothie flavor when I ran out of my normal gels. I was pleasantly surprised how thin the consistency was and how good it tasted. I'm pretty sure I'll be switching to Honey Stinger gels from now on.

I've been a KT Tape user for several years now. The new PRO tape is even better because it sticks for several days. I applied some KT Tape mid-relay because my IT Band was acting up. It really is magical. I recommend this product to strangers all the time and I stand by it.

Oh compression! Some people believe and some just don't understand. Of course I was skeptical several years ago when it first became popular. But after experiencing the magic of it, I became a believer. I use compression several times a month, whether it's calf sleeves or full-length tights. SKINS is my favorite brand and I view them as the highest quality. I wore SKINS recovery tights between each of my legs at Ragnar. I also slept in them the night after the relay. I wish I could live in them forever because of how great they make my legs feel.

I packed several peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the weekend. This is a normal meal for me at home, so I figured I should stick with what I know. I ate one for lunch, one during the night, and one in the morning.

I started going to Hit the Mark Fitness right after I had Desmond. These boot camp classes really helped me jump back into fitness. Some months I go several times a week, and some months not at all. I wish I could go more often, but with Desmond and Skyler's job, it's not easy making it work. But every time I go I feel great. I love feeling the sweat and pushing harder than I would go myself.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Smiling in a workout?

I might have cracked a smile yesterday while swimming. Had my fastest set of 100s EVER! 1:30 1:30 1:31 1:29 Yippee!!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Race Report: Ragnar So Cal 2013

To tell you the truth, I wasn't really looking forward to Ragnar Relay this year. After feeling so awful during last year's race, I knew it could happen again. Plus, this relay was right in the middle of the triathlon training, so I saw it as more of a hinderance than anything. But as race day got closer, I got more excited. How often do I get to spend two days with my closest running friends?

This year our start time was a few hours earlier. I saw this as a good thing because I figured more daytime meant less nighttime. This may seem a bit weird, but I felt my worst during the night last time. I had a couple of ideas of how to remedy this and hoped that it worked this year.

Our start time was 8:00am this year, so we met at Carrie's at 6:00am. Early start for a long day. We packed up our sparkly van and headed to the race start in Huntington Beach, CA. I was extra excited for Ragnar this year because my brother Eric was racing too. And his start time was the same as ours! He came with a team of 12 and although we didn't run the same legs, we got to hang out a lot.

Four of us were returning to the team and two of us were new. The four veterans kept the same positions as last year, so we could see if we had any improvements. The race was about 10 miles shorter this year and a few of the legs were different. Only two of mine ended up the same and I had an additional 5 miles this year.

#1 Linda
#2 Brenna
#3 Kelly
#4 Danica
#5 Carrie
#6 Elise

Linda started us off at 8:00am. Eric also was runner #1 so I got to cheer him on as he started off too. The race had begun for us and we were pumped! Since I was the last runner, I wouldn't be running for a few hours, right as the day would start to get hot.

Like I mentioned before, last year I got super sick. I think part of the reason was because I got carsick. Sitting in the back of a 12-seater van will do that to you. This year I brought lots of Dramamine and took it every 4-6 hours. It worked like a charm (thankfully)!

As each runner would start their leg, I would see Eric's team at each exchange. We realized that we might actually stay close the whole time and it became a competition. No surprise since we come from a pretty competitive family. Sibling rivalry at it's best.

#1 - Leg 6: 3.8 miles Easy (Anaheim, CA)
Time: 30 minutes (7:53 pace)
Kills: 9

(NOTE: You won't believe it but my Garmin only holds 7 runs in it's history. I already had 2 in there, so it deleted all of my Ragnar runs, except my last one. Go figure. So all of my times are approximate.)

This leg was 1 mile longer than last year, but I actually went faster this year. Last year they had so many street crossings in this leg, so I spent a lot of time waiting at stoplights. Someone got smarter this year and had us run on the trail instead of waiting to cross a major intersection. This was a pretty short leg and it was hot outside. We ran on the Santa Ana River Trail  for half of it and the sun seemed to radiate off the trail. I finished my leg and was surprised that my team wasn't there waiting for me, only the next runner. I didn't have my phone and I didn't know where they were. Luckily I found my brother and was able to call them. I guess parking was bad and they were parked far away. Being runner #6 means my legs always ended at big exchanges, which meant my team wasn't able to meet me there. Kinda a big bummer, but now that I know that, I wasn't sad for the situation.

#2 - Leg 12: 8.5 miles Hard (Lake Elsinore, CA)
Time: 1:11:00 (8:21 pace)
Kills: 29

This was definitely my hardest leg of Ragnar. Last year this leg was only 4 miles, but they extended it to the next exchange this time. It was 90 degrees, only one water stop, and my van never stopped to give me a refill. Luckily I brought a handheld water bottle because I needed it. As hard as this leg was, I really liked it. I've always liked running in the heat. I just kept telling myself it was a fun run in a new place and I should enjoy it. I tried talking to some of the people I passed but almost everyone had headphones. Lame! I came into the exchange and was greeted by a unicorn. Yes, our team had two unicorn heads which we used to entertain ourselves as well as others.

Not long after that, it began to get dark. We stopped by a Carl's Jr. to pick up some food. I went with a BBQ grilled chicken sandwich. It was nice to eat real food, although I had been trying to do that all day. My strategy was to pretend like it was a normal day and eat how I normally would. Then, before each run I would eat a gel.

#3 - Leg 18: 7.5 miles Very Hard (Escondido, CA)
Time: 1:04:00 (8:32 pace)
Kills: 32

This was my favorite leg last year and I have to say that it remains my favorite this year too. But just because it's my favorite doesn't mean it was easy. It starts with a 2 mile, 6% grade, 1000' climb. It is just the perfect grade to chug along, but not feel exhausted. I seemed to pass people right and left running up that hill.

As I got near the top of the climb, I spotted a Vizsla and was able to shout, "I have a Vizsla too." Then I saw that it was my pup. Surprise! Skyler, Pumpkin, and Desmond were there to greet me at the top! I couldn't have been more shocked or excited! It was near midnight and Desmond could barely keep his eyes open. Pumpkin, of course, jumped up on me. They ran with me for about 1/4 mile then left to meet me at the exchange. 

After that, the run was cake. There was a lot of downhill and some rollers, but I was on cloud nine. My family had come to see me! I finished the rest of the leg and was ready to greet my family at the exchange. We talked for a few minutes, but I had to go quickly since the race keeps going. Skyler is such a great husband!

#4 - Leg 24: 4.9 miles Hard (Carlsbad, CA)
Time: 40 minutes (8:09 pace)
Kills: 1

Since we started earlier in the day, there was a different dynamic for the race. We passed a lot of the slower teams, who started earlier than us, at the beginning, so there weren't as many to pass as we got closer to San Diego. This Carlsbad leg was my least favorite both years. It's in the middle of the night (around 2:30 am) and is super boring. It's an industrial area and there weren't many runners around. This was the first time I got passed by a runner. When I finished I tried to go to sleep for a while. My stats-taking skills then went down the drain as I neglected them.

I tried to sleep during those early morning hours, but my body just wouldn't let me. But surprisingly I wasn't feeling sick like I did last year. Another reason for that was because I changed out of my sweaty running clothes after each leg during the night. I pulled on a sweatshirt and sweat pants and felt so cozy. It's way better than shivering in wet clothes in the middle of the night.

We were at the Solana Beach exchange for quite a while. Eric was there and we got to hang out as the sun came up. It was a beautiful morning!

#5 - Leg #30: 4.2 miles Very Hard
Time: 32 minutes (7:45 pace)
Kills: 8

Torrey Pines. This was another hilly leg that a lot of people feared. About 500' of climbing in about one mile. It's steeper than the Escondido one, so it seems longer, but it isn't. This leg didn't happen until about 8am. The sun was beaming and it felt wonderful. I really enjoy climbing. I felt great, so much better than last year. My calves were really started to stiffen and it was difficult to walk, but running was a lot easier than walking. I guess that's expected when you sit in a van doing nothing between all of the legs.

#6 - Leg #36 5 miles Easy
Time: 44 minutes (7:56 pace since I ran an extra 1/2 mile)
Kills: 2

Just one more leg to go. Just another 5 miles. Although my calves were screaming in pain, I knew I could finish strong. I changed into a royal blue skirt, since we were dedicating our finish to honoring Boston. I was ready to rock. 

Eric's teammate started just 30 seconds in front of me. I thought I could catch him, but then I hit a actual detour. I got lost. In the same place Kelly got lost last year, I got lost this year. I was running along a patch near the harbor when the sidewalk split into two. There were always signs when you needed to deviate from continuing straight, so I continued running straight, following another runner. Something didn't feel right and when I caught up to the runner, who wasn't running in the race, I knew I had made a wrong turn. Luckily I wasn't too far out of the way, or so I thought. I couldn't find any Ragnar signs at all! Where was I supposed to go?! I knew the finish line was near the convention center, so I ran in the that direction. Still no signs and no runners, so I was feeling a little nervous. 

Finally I spotted the "One Mile Left To Go" sign. I ran as fast as my tight calves would let me. I sprinted to the finish waiting area to find my team not there. They were walking along the side not paying attention. I yelled at them to hurry up so we could finish together. And we did! 29 hours and 39 minutes later, Team Sparkle finished!

I was excited to see my brother waiting for me there too. His team finished 4 minutes in front of us, just about the time it takes to run 1/2 mile (the extra mileage I ran while lost). Oh well. 

Photos galore! That's what happens when you bring a professional photographer in your van with you. We had a blast posing and running around the place.

I ran a total of 34.4 miles in approximately 4:42, at an average pace of 8:09. And I had the most elevation gain of anyone on the team at almost 2500'. Oh yeah I'm proud of that! Will I do it again? Last year I said NO, but this year has changed my perspective of relays and I will definitely be on board for next year.